In a move that was long-rumored by local sources in Ocean County, Michael Ritacco, the Toms River Regional schools superintendent who was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the IRS, is out of custody at the Federal Correctional Institute in Fairton, Pa.
His stay at the facility was part of an 11-year sentence stemming from a bribery scheme in which he used his influence to promote the hiring of an insurance firm which was providing his kickbacks between $1 million and $2 million.
Sources had long advised Shorebeat that Ritacco had been building up good conduct time and would be released imminently. The rumors began months ago, but it was this week that his release was confirmed. Ritacco is not home, however. He has been transferred to a Residential Reentry Management office in Philadelphia, a service that connects former inmates with halfway houses which provide “community-based services that will assist with their reentry needs.”
At his sentencing hearing in 2012, former U.S. District Court Judge Judge Joel Pisano called Ritacco’s crimes the “worst case of public corruption I have ever seen.”
After his arrest more than a year earlier, his name was stripped from the arena facility at Toms River High School North that was named in his honor. It has been named for corporate sponsors ever since.
The wide nature of Ritacco’s bribery regime shocked both residents and prosecutors.
To conceal his fraudulent scheme from the Toms River Regional School District school board, as well as the IRS, Ritacco and his co-schemers agreed to use middlemen, shell companies, sham consulting contracts, and third-party payments, to secretly pass hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash bribes and other payments to Ritacco.
Ritacco also admitted to filing fraudulent tax returns for tax years 2004 through 2006, and to conspiring with Francis X. Gartland – the district’s insurance broker – to evade Ritacco’s federal income taxes from approximately 2002 to 2010.
Ritacco’s palatial home steps from the ocean in Seaside Park was sold at auction shortly after his sentencing. It is unknown where he will ultimately reside, but sources have confirmed he still has numerous family members in the area.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, Ritacco’s release date from the halfway house is listed as May 25, 2022, though that date may be modified in the future.
In addition to the original prison term, Pisano sentenced Ritacco to three years of supervised release and fined him a total of $100,000 plus $4.3 million in restitution to the school district.